Cheney to consider heart transplant at some point

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Former Vice President Dick Cheney said in an interview that aired on Tuesday that he will have decide whether to undergo a heart transplant to replace the heart pump that is now keeping him alive.

“I’ll have to make a decision at some point whether or not I want to go for a transplant,” he told NBC News. “But we haven’t addressed that yet.”

Cheney, who turns 70 later this month, has had five heart attacks, the latest in February 2010.

He opted for a heart pump in July after experiencing increasing congestive heart failure, a chronic condition that develops as the heart loses its ability to pump properly and gradually enlarges.

Cheney, a former smoker, has already had bypass surgery and other procedures including balloon angioplasty. He also had a defibrillator implanted to monitor his heart and shock it back into a normal rhythm if abnormal beating occurred. That device was replaced in 2007 because of a low battery.

The former vice president, who served under President George W. Bush, told NBC that he has adapted to the heart pump and its accessories, which include a vest that holds the pump control, two batteries and a power cord that runs to the mechanism inside his chest.

“The technology’s getting better and better, and we’ve got more and more experience of people living with this technology,” he said.

“Initially, obviously, it’s kind of awkward to walk around with all this gear on. But you quickly get to the point of where you’ve adapted, where it’s second nature to you.”